Sports nutrition is a very well researched area and there are very specific ways in which you can change your diet and food timing to improve performance. Nutrition is vital for all areas of health but especially when it comes to improving your physical goals. Much of the guidelines for sports nutrition come to the timing of your food and exercise. Here are a few important rules that can be followed to improve your sports performance.
Eating before you exercise for good sports nutrition
Timing is very important when your eating before you exercise. It must be absorbed and digested prior to exercise so the food can be used for fuel while you are moving. Foods that are high in fat, fibre and protein always take longer to digest then others. If it isn’t digested it can be uncomfortable and unpleasant in the stomach when exercising. Large meals obviously take longer to digest than small meals and snacks. The general rule is to consume a meal 3-4 hours prior to exercise or a lighter meal about 1-2 hours before exercise. This rule can always change depending on the person, so finding what works for you is important.
Examples of heavier foods to eat 3-4 hours prior:
- Baked beans on rye, wholemeal sourdough or Burgen soy and linseed
- Wholemeal pasta or rice dishes with lean meats
- Fish, chicken, beef, pork and veggies
- Fruit salad with natural yoghurt
- Porridge with banana or berries
- Natural untoasted muesli with milk (almond, soy, cow’s, rice)
Examples of small meals/snacks to eat 1-2 hours prior:
- Protein bar- ‘Quest’ brand
- Muesli bar- ‘Carman’s’ brand
- Piece of fruit
- Handful of nuts- about 10-15
- Plain rice crackers
- Freshly squeezed veggies and fruit juice
Eating within 30 mins of exercise
After you have exercised, it is important to eat within 30 minutes of when you finish your workout. This allows the body to replace its stored energy, help with speeding up recovery time, muscle growth and increase strength for your next session. It is a good idea to consume protein and carbohydrates in your meal after exercise. This will help return the body’s energy called glycogen. Glycogen serves as a form of energy storage within the body which is used while exercising over 30 minutes.
Examples of meals to eat after a workout
- Protein packed sandwiches
- Lean protein with veggies and a carbohydrate part- rice, sweet potato, potato, quinoa. .
- Eggs on toast with avocado mash
- Smoothies- banana, berries, nuts, seeds, milk of your choice, cacao, protein powder/raw egg, honey if needed.
- Thai style curries with chicken, rice and greens. Once a week if you are wanting to lose weight
- Yoghurt mixed with protein powder with mixed nuts, seeds, berries and ½ cup of oats or untoasted muesli
If you can’t find time for a proper meal within 45mins of exercise its important to still aim to get in some carbs and protein for muscle recovery.
Examples of post workout snacks
- Banana with a handful of nuts (10-15)
- Protein shake with water or milk- try WPI powder (Whey Protein Isolate) or non milk protein source (brown rice is great)
- Protein bar- ‘Quest’ brand
- One or two Medjool Date filled with one teaspoon natural unsalted almond butter.
- Chia pudding
- Chobani yoghurt with berries
- Tuna on rice cakes
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